Cochineal Scale Insect of Cactus

الحشرة القرمزية cochineal scale insect

Some observations on the cochineal scale insect of cactus (Dactylopius opuntiae) (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) in Morocco. The cochineal scale insect appears in Morocco for the firsttime in Saniet Bergig (Morocco) by the end of 2014. It attacks only cactus plants Opuntia sp. It is characterized by its red color because of the carmine secretion. The origin of these insects is tropical and subtropical forest of America and Mexico. It is soft insect with oval form. The males are winged in contrary of females, which are covered by white wax substance. The females lay eggs after copulation hatched in to small larvae secreting white waxy substance to protect themselves from loss of water and heavy sunrays. The scale insect appears as white cotton-like piles, it moves into the marginal cactus pads, the wind carries the filament waxy substance into new cactus plants. The winged males are disturbing the human populations around the cactus fields. The food national office of Morocco confirms that the cactus fruits consumption do not have any health effect neither for human nor for animals. This scale insect affects cactus yields and causes enormous  losses to the plants by sucking their sap lead to pad drought. The cactus plants die when the infestation is heavy. The prevention methods are the best solution to avoid insect transmission and reducing damage. The transport of infested cactus pads and fruits should be prohibited. The plastic boxes are recommended to use instead of woody after washing and disinfecting. Controlling the vehicles are also playing a roll in insect transmission. The control measures should be applied for the disposal of infected plants and using the recommended chemical control by ONSSA. www.onssa.gov.ma Abdelmoughit Ait Friha, Provincial Service of Control and Plant Protection of Boulemane 2016.